Houston at Chicago

Houston (39-51)000000000054
Chi. Cubs (45-43) «00030102x6120

Zambrano dominates for Cubs, who don't break stride after break

CBS SportsLine.com wire reports

CHICAGO -- Carlos Zambrano looked fresh after a four-day All-Star break, ready to lead the Chicago Cubs over the final 2½ months of the season.

"It's big starting the second half like we did today," Zambrano said Friday after throwing 6 1/3 scoreless innings as the Cubs continued what they'd started before the break, beating the Houston Astros 6-0 for their 13th win in 17 games.

"We have a lot more games to go. Hopefully we can catch the Milwaukee Brewers in the next two weeks and go from there. It's very important to have that first game back," Zambrano said.

Zambrano (11-7), who had some travel problems getting back to Chicago and missed a workout on Thursday, was sharp from the outset. Hunter Pence's leadoff single in the fourth, Eric Munson's single to start the sixth and Carlos Lee one-out single in the seventh were the only hits he allowed.

Zambrano is 6-2 in the eight starts since he got in a fight with former Cubs catcher Michael Barrett. Even though the Cubs' improved play has coincided with his resurgence, Zambrano said: "I don't think I'm the only ace here."

That pronouncement seemed to surprise manager Lou Piniella.

"Well, he's getting humble," Piniella said. "He's not the ace of the staff? If he feels comfortable with that, that's fine with me. We lean on him. He's very capable. ... Anytime your No. 1 starter picks it up like he has, it gives you a big lift as a team."

After surrendering Lee's single in the seventh, Zambrano walked Mark Loretta and Luke Scott to load the bases before Carlos Marmol relieved and got Munson on a fly to center.

Zambrano is now 5-0 with a 0.40 ERA in his last six starts against the Astros dating to last season.

Houston finished with almost as many errors (4) as hits (5).

"We gave them a couple of runs and then we didn't get any offense going," Astros manager Phil Garner said. "That's what Zambrano has been doing to us. He sure enjoys himself when he pitches against us. He shows it on the mound and has been getting good results."

The Astros made two errors on the same play in the fourth when the Cubs scored three runs off Jason Jennings (1-5). Cliff Floyd and Mark DeRosa singled to put runners at the corners before Jacque Jones hit a sacrifice fly to make it 1-0 with DeRosa alertly racing to second on the play.

When Geovany Soto, just called up from Triple-A, hit a grounder to third, Mike Lamb fumbled the ball and then threw low to Lance Berkman at first for an error. DeRosa started around third but then retreated to the bag before Berkman airmailed a throw over the third base dugout and into the stands for another error, allowing DeRosa to score and Soto to take third. Zambrano then dumped an RBI single into left for a 3-0 lead.

"It's just one of those situations where he looked like he rounded it a little too far. I tried to make a good throw and I threw it in the stands," Berkman said.

"We played some sloppy defense, which is never good."

Jennings lasted 5 1/3 innings, allowing 10 hits and four runs with one walk and matching a season high with seven strikeouts. He was taken out in the sixth after Zambrano hit his second single and Alfonso Soriano doubled.

After retiring Ryan Theriot on a slow roller, reliever Chad Qualls intentionally walked Derrek Lee to load the bases and then walked Aramis Ramirez to force in a run and make it 4-0.

The Cubs added two runs in the eighth off reliever Matt Albers, who gave up a single to Soriano, walk to Theriot and two-run double to Derrek Lee. Chicago then loaded the bases as Floyd took an intentional walk and DeRosa reached on shortstop Loretta's second error of the game before reliever Trever Miller got the final two outs.


  • Zambrano also started the final game before the All-Star break, losing to the Pirates. He's the first Cubs pitcher to make starts in consecutive games in the same season since Jon Leiber nearly six years ago. Leiber started Sept. 10, 2001, and then Sept. 18, 2001, after a league-wide work stoppage caused by the terrorist attacks.
  • Jennings got the start because the Astros wanted to give ace Roy Oswalt another day off to recover from travel. Oswalt was on the NL All-Star team in San Francisco, but did not pitch Tuesday night.
  • Soriano, who hit a ninth-inning homer in Tuesday night's game, struck out his first three times up Friday before his sixth-inning double.
Copyright 2015 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
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The Cubs' Ryan Theriot slides past Craig Biggio's tag during the third inning for a stolen base.  (AP)
The Cubs' Ryan Theriot slides past Craig Biggio's tag during the third inning for a stolen base. (AP)

Players of the Game

C. Zambrano
IP 6.2
H 3
ER 0
BB 3
K 7

D. Lee
AB 3
R 0
H 1
HR 0

Related Video

Houston Astros
Craig Biggio, 2B4000001 .256
Hunter Pence, CF4010021 .341
Lance Berkman, 1B3000110 .261
Carlos Lee, LF4020011 .299
Mark Loretta, SS3010100 .317
Mike Lamb, 3B4000014 .289
Luke Scott, RF3000122 .223
Eric Munson, C3010003 .255
Jason Jennings, P2000011 .077
    Chad Qualls, P0000000 .000
    Brad Lidge, P0000000 .000
   a- Orlando Palmeiro, PH1000010 .261
    Matt Albers, P0000000 .222
    Trever Miller, P0000000 .000
a-struck out for Lidge in the 8th
E - Lance Berkman (6, Throwing(Soto safe at first on Lamb's error, DeRosa scores and Soto to), Mike Lamb (7, Throwing(Soto safe at first on Lamb's error, DeRosa scores and Soto to), Mark Loretta 2 (6, Throwing)
Houston Astros
Jason Jennings (L,1-5) 5.11043170 4.15
Chad Qualls 0.2000200 4.03
Brad Lidge 1000020 2.27
Matt Albers 0.1222200 6.10
Trever Miller 0.2000000 6.56
IBB - Lee by Chad Qualls, Floyd by Matt Albers
WP - Matt Albers (5)
Pitches-Strikes - Jason Jennings 102-0, Chad Qualls 20-0, Brad Lidge 19-0, Matt Albers 25-0, Trever Miller 3-0
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Jason Jennings 3-7, Chad Qualls 1-1, Brad Lidge 2-0, Matt Albers 1-1, Trever Miller 1-1
Batters Faced - Jason Jennings 28, Chad Qualls 4, Brad Lidge 4, Matt Albers 6, Trever Miller 2
Chicago Cubs
Alfonso Soriano, LF5120031 .311
Ryan Theriot, SS4120103 .280
Derrek Lee, 1B3012211 .330
Aramis Ramirez, 3B4001104 .307
Cliff Floyd, RF4120103 .297
    Bob Howry, P0000000 .000
Mark DeRosa, 2B5120010 .293
Jacque Jones, CF4011015 .233
Geovany Soto, C5100024 .000
Carlos Zambrano, P3121010 .267
    Carlos Marmol, P1000001 .000
    Angel Pagan, RF0000000 .267
2B - Alfonso Soriano (25, J. Jennings), Derrek Lee (27, Albers)
SF - Jacque Jones (2)
RBI - Derrek Lee 2 (44), Aramis Ramirez (52), Jacque Jones (21), Carlos Zambrano (5)
2-OUT RBI - Aramis Ramirez (19)
SB - Ryan Theriot (15, 2nd base off J. Jennings/Munson)
Team LOB - 14
DP - DeRosa-Lee
Chicago Cubs
Carlos Zambrano (W,11-7) 6.2300370 3.83
Carlos Marmol (H,5) 1.1000010 0.92
Bob Howry 1200010 4.57
Pitches-Strikes - Carlos Zambrano 115-0, Carlos Marmol 14-0, Bob Howry 18-0
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Carlos Zambrano 5-7, Carlos Marmol 2-1
Batters Faced - Carlos Zambrano 25, Carlos Marmol 4, Bob Howry 5
Game Information
Attendance - 41593
Game Time - 2:51
Temperature - 67
Umpires - Home - Greg Gibson, First Base - Larry Vanover, Second Base - Tony Randazzo, Third Base - Charlie Reliford